Sunday Reflection: School Holidays

When I was teaching in the classroom, this was the break I was most desperate for. Yes, I know it was only 10 weeks since the last break but maybe it was because this term is the coldest, the one filled with the most germs, coughing kids, flu, sore throats, etc, all I wanted was a break, and not to catch up with prep or marking but a break for me, no classes, no prep, no alarm clock.

So, I really get it that this is the term break when most families disappear from church, even when they are not going anywhere. Give me a break.

But when I was working in an inner city church, it surprised me that this was the break where we saw the largest increase in children, and not just our own members, we would see more travellers and their children, though of course the Christmas break and it’s luxurious 6 weeks was always the one where we had more non-community children present. Having come from the Suburbs, where universally the Sunday School program would end with term, the 3 weekends of the break would see the congregations average age increase dramatically as the children and their parents/caregivers disappeared.

It has always intrigued me that congregations, particularly congregations still running the Sunday School at the same time as church, a 250 year old model, don’t think outside the square and make these term breaks an occasion for experimentation. Make it a goal to run Intergenerational Services, or try Messy Church consistently each school break, or at the very least supply material that can help younger worshippers understand and participate in a traditional service.

Ok, I hear you say well what about the Sunday School Teachers? This is their chance to worship with the rest of the congregation. True, but I also find they are missing in action during these breaks.

OR if your congregation is happy to let the youngest members of your community rest away from Worship for 10 weeks of the year. Then the least you can do is use this time to encourage Family Faith Formation, by supplying programs that they can do as home worship. Some resources you might find useful are


Use your websites to give out suggestions for the Break,

or supply your families with websites or books that give good Family Faith Formation ideas.

At the very least start a lending Library so that Families and Grandparents can borrow beautiful Bibles, story book Bibles and storybooks that allow them to share the faith with a new generation.


Oh by the way, did I say I need a break!

Safe travels, safe downtime


Wendy L.


School Holiday’s and Worship

When I was in the city during school holidays, our children’s numbers increased, which was the exact opposite of what appears to happen in our suburban churches. School holiday’s seem to see our suburban churches empty themselves of children.

Even those families that consistently turn up week after week, will “disappear” over the school holiday’s. Some will say, that it’s because the family needs a rest from the structure of the term, other’s that there are no Sunday School so therefore there is “Nothing for the kid’s”. Some will travel, physically being absent, while some move into the home of their non-custodial parent.

Regardless of the reason, modern Australian families function differently during the term break, than they do during the term, but church does NOT. It continues in the same format, except that it might drop Sunday School if they still operate traditionally. Unless you have a congregation of 20, 30 or 50 year olds, almost everyone else will be experiencing a term timetable.

So we can accept that for 12 weeks of the year that our churches will be child free, or we can see if some changes might result in a greater engagement with the church and community families.

Depending on what you discover, by asking around or a brief survey of your families, will determine what strategies you might like to try.

For example if families are not attending Sunday morning services due to the need for a “lay in” or the need for some “family time”, you might want to change the times and style of your services during the holidays. Try a Saturday evening or a Sunday lunch or late Sunday afternoon service. You could make this an Intergenerational Service and use such resources as or ENGAGE

Or you could try Messy Church during school holiday’s only

If you have an ageing congregation, don’t underestimate the importance of Grandparents  in guiding their grandchildren to faith, so giving them some options to involve their grandchildren, could have many benefits.

If your families use this time to travel, then it might be the time to strengthen family faith formation tools so that families include worship moments into their holiday routine. You might suggest the for creative families or for those who are musical




Though some families may visit other congregations as part of their holiday’s, circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that families are unsure of attending different congregations, because of the multiplicity of expectations and programs that are available.

Are you ready to encourage such random, holiday makers into your service. Do you need  information sheets or words of welcome, more obvious or welcoming worship spaces. Don’t be the congregation in this blog post

Does your congregation, change it’s services or times to reflect the term times?

Does it do something creative to involve families during the school holidays?

Share with us


Wendy L